From saving oceans to empowering girls, Skoll Awards honour social entrepreneurs

Monday, 13 April 2015 13:34 GMT

A fisherman in Madagascar. BLUE VENTURES/Garth Cripps

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Skoll Foundation announces four winners of its award for social entrepreneurship

LONDON, April 13 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Four social entrepreneurs helping to save the environment by building sustainable coastal communities, improving access to information to fight pollution, investing in girls' education and securing a better future for the rural poor are the winners of the 2015 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship.

Alasdair Harris of Blue Ventures, Ma Jun of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, Safeena Husain of Educate Girls and Jagdeesh Rao Puppala of the Foundation for Ecological Security will each receive a $1.25 million award for their work, the Skoll Foundation said on Monday.

Blue Ventures has been forging new ground in marine conservation in Madagascar by focusing on people as much as on endangered species, a model started 10 years ago that has created a thriving marine conservation movement in the region.

The social enterprise encourages fishing communities to manage their marine environment while also providing reproductive health services for the island state's fast-growing population to help safeguard coastal livelihoods.

Husain of Educate Girls aims to tackle the challenge of providing quality education for marginalised girls in India, where more than 3.7 million of them are out of school, the third highest number in the world.

The social enterprise, which has reached one million children in 7,500 schools, partners with public schools, trains local champions for girls' education and works with communities to create their own action plans to make education more accessible for girls, the Skoll Foundation said.

Fighting China's severe environmental degradation is at the heart of Ma Jun's Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs.

The institute creates tools for people to access information about land, air and water, resulting in increased public participation in environmental governance. Almost 2,000 factories have taken action to clean up their operations.

The Foundation for Ecological Security (FES) helps villagers secure community rights to publicly-owned land and support regulations to manage it in a more sustainable way. The result has been higher soil and water quality, improved biodiversity and improved agricultural productivity for India's rural poor.

The Skoll Awards recognise social entrepreneurs whose innovations have already had significant, proven impact on some of the world's most pressing problems, the Skoll Foundation said.

"Within every social entrepreneur is an unwavering belief that big, seemingly intractable problems offer unsurpassed opportunities," said Jeff Skoll, founder and chairman of the Skoll Foundation.

"By instigating seismic change in our society where it is desperately needed -- in the education of girls and the protection of resources like our air, oceans, and public lands -- these four entrepreneurs are giving us good reason to believe in a radically better future."

The winners will receive their awards on Thursday at the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship in Oxford.

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